JFK's Assassination 60 years on | What films are worth watching on the anniversary

With today marking six decades since the assassination of John F. Kennedy, what films are worth visiting surrounding the tragedy?

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On November 22, 1963, the world witnessed a moment that would forever alter the course of history—the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. As the nation grappled with shock and grief, little did anyone anticipate that this tragic event would evolve into an enduring cultural phenomenon, transcending the pages of textbooks to become a subject of fascination, speculation, and artistic interpretation. 

Today marks the 60th anniversary of that fateful day, and as we reflect on the profound impact of JFK's assassination, it's impossible to ignore the cinematic lens through which this pivotal moment has been refracted over the years. While the historical record meticulously documents the events of that November day in Dallas, the assassination of President Kennedy has equally found a place within the realm of fiction, imagination, and artistic expression. 

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The assassination, its conspiracies, and the complex aftermath have not only defined an era but have become a canvas upon which filmmakers paint stories that explore the intricacies of power, politics, and the human condition. Beyond its historical significance, the Kennedy assassination has become a rich tapestry of narratives, each film offering a unique perspective on the questions that linger around that tragic moment.

Oliver Stone's "JFK," released in 1991, serves as a cinematic touchstone for the exploration of conspiracy theories surrounding the assassination, presenting a riveting mosaic of narratives, blending historical footage and speculative accounts to create a tapestry that mirrors the labyrinthine nature of the event itself. However, Stone’s piece wasn’t the only film based around the assassination of JFK that was released and wasn’t purely a documentary feature.

These films, emerging from a desire to navigate the nuances and complexities of that November day, still influence how we comprehend an event that significantly impacted modern history. Six decades later, it stands as a story that encourages us to revisit the historical shadows and ponder the lasting mystery connected to one of the 20th century's pivotal moments.

What films are worth watching based on JFK?

JFK (1991)

Directed by Oliver Stone, "JFK" is a political thriller that delves into the investigation surrounding the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. The film follows New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison as he conducts his own inquiry, questioning the official account of the events surrounding JFK's death. Through a mix of conspiracy theories and historical footage, the movie explores various perspectives on the assassination and its aftermath.

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Jackie (2016)

The first of Pablo Larraín’s unintentional ‘lady-in-heels’ trilogy (followed by “Spencer” in 2021 and 2024’s “Maria” staring Angelina Jolie),  "Jackie" is a biographical drama that focuses on Jacqueline Kennedy in the days following the assassination of her husband, President John F. Kennedy. The film, starring Natalie Portman as Jackie, provides an intimate portrayal of the iconic First Lady as she grapples with grief, public scrutiny, and the preservation of her husband's legacy.

Parkland (2013)

Directed by Peter Landesman, "Parkland" depicts the chaotic events at Parkland Hospital in Dallas on the day of President John F. Kennedy's assassination. The film explores the perspectives of various individuals, including medical staff, law enforcement, and the Secret Service, offering a detailed look at the immediate aftermath of the tragic event.

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Killing Kennedy (2011)

Based on the book by Bill O'Reilly and Martin Dugard, "Killing Kennedy" is a television film that chronicles the life and assassination of President John F. Kennedy. The movie, starring Rob Lowe as JFK, provides a narrative that intertwines Kennedy's presidency with the experiences of Lee Harvey Oswald, his presumed assassin.

Fatal Deception (1993)

"Fatal Deception: Mrs. Lee Harvey Oswald" is a television film that explores the life of Marina Oswald (played by Helena Bonham Carter), the wife of Lee Harvey Oswald, who was accused of assassinating President John F. Kennedy. The film delves into Marina's experiences, from her marriage to Oswald to the aftermath of the assassination and the challenges she faced as a result of her association with one of history's most infamous figures.

Where to watch: currently unavailable to stream - though copies on VHS are floating around on eBay.

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